The Hollywood Reporter has released their directors roundtable, which includes Tom Hooper, Danny Boyle, David O. Russell, Ridley Scott, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Quentin Tarantino. That’s quite a mix of people, several of whom have reputations for being, let’s call it “exacting” in their process. Hooper and Boyle don’t say much because most of the conversation is dominated by Tarantino, Russell, Scott, and Iñárritu. Lainey said she hates Ridley Scott now, because he doesn’t have the “grumpy old man charm of Michael Caine”. And it’s true, he comes off pretty irascible, but he also says, to these five other directors, “Maybe there’s too many [directors] in the field and therefore the general quality [is worse].” Then he proceeds to sh*t on Tom Hooper. Ridley Scott is the grumpy grandpa at the family dinner, reminding you he’s leaving you out of his will.
But most of the roundtable is a dick measuring contest between Tarantino and Iñárritu. They both made Westerns, they both dealt with tough shoot conditions and budget issues, but only one of them ended up in THR defending his production against rumors of trouble on set. The roundtable opens with talking about the difficulties Iñárritu faced while making The Revenant, and he talks about the weather. No mention of the stunts that put performers at risk or the general bad morale that led to fighting on set, just the weather. But bad weather alone doesn’t land you in the press, reassuring everyone that no really, everything is totally fine.
We know this because Tarantino also experienced bad weather while shooting The Hateful Eight. Like Iñárritu and The Revenant, Tarantino was in remote mountain locations (Telluride, Colorado instead of Calgary, Alberta) dealing with an unusually warm winter and lack of snow. Tarantino also saw his budget balloon, though it didn’t come close to the reported $135 million price tag of The Revenant. Of his issues on The Hateful Eight, Tarantino says, “Everyone knew what the problem was, all right? It's not that we're jerking off.”
I can’t help but feel like that’s a dig at Iñárritu. The subtext of all those Revenant stories was that Iñárritu was being self-indulgent, and Tarantino emphasizes that he never lost the trust of his producers and studio—unlike Iñárritu, who had to have mid-production producer changes and extra babysitters because things got so out of hand. Iñárritu’s Response? “Was it our fault? No. We responded correctly. There was no indulgence.” I’ve seen your movie, dude. It’s the definition of “indulgent”.
Then grumpy-ass Ridley Scott weighs in: “Planning is a big thing. […] Watch the problem coming over the horizon, and if it's a problem, knock its head off before it gets near you.” You can’t do much about the weather—or apparently terrifying wind—that’s true, but you can do the math on shooting in natural light during short winter days. That’s a problem that can be anticipated. Making an actor with a known physical ailment wear period-correct but painful footwear—also avoidable. Insisting on a level of realism in dangerous stunts that puts performers at risk—there are work arounds. But Iñárritu focuses on the weather, the least of all problems. I doubt he’ll ever acknowledge the myriad other factors, all well within his control, that drove that production into nightmare territory.
The final word goes to Quentin Tarantino, who puts the challenges of filmmaking into perspective: “[…] especially when the film is a long shoot—you get down, and you just get sick of it. […] I’m a grumpy asshole and everyone’s [saying], ‘Oh, Quentin’s in a bad mood and stay away from him’. […] And what usually snaps me out of it is, like, ‘Oh, poor you! You’re living your dream and it’s so difficult. Oh, everybody f*ckin’ cry for Quentin.”
Iñárritu is living his dream and it’s so difficult. Everybody f*ckin’ cry for Iñárritu.
Click here to read more from the directors roundtable at THR.